With so much misunderstanding surrounding Islam in countries like the United States, it is imperative to have calm and authoritative voices who can speak clearly to the American people in hope of educating them on this subject. Thankfully, Americans have my mentor Ambassador Akbar Ahmed of American University to speak to them in a very simple way.
Ambassador Ahmed just appeared on “This is America” with Dennis Wholey to discuss his new book The Thistle and the Drone: How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam. Before discussing this sensational book, Wholey asked Ambassador Ahmed a question about the basic principles of Islam, to which he responded:
The basic principles derive from the Judeo-Christian tradition. Certain “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots.” Basically a life of piety, showing compassion, particularly towards the poor, neighbors, and family. Constantly remember that we are hear on this Earth for a short time and therefore walking in humility, with a soft tread as it were. And above all being good human beings. Avoiding violence, I want to emphasize this because to me as a Muslim scholar Islam is a religion of compassion and peace theologically. God’s two greatest names out of the 99 names he has in the Quran are Rahman and Rahim, which mean compassion and mercy. So God describes himself as merciful and compassionate.
Ambassador Ahmed’s description of the fundamentals of Islam might come as a shock to many people, especially Americans who are unfamiliar with the faith. After all, we never hear of words like compassion and mercy when we see stories about Islam in the media or blogosphere. Basically, we need to amplify the voices of thinkers like Ambassador Ahmed, who simply goes back to the basics to prove his point. Isn’t this what all great scholars do?
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